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School Floats $156.4M Budget

Members of the Farmingdale School District Board of Education are currently mulling a proposed $156.4 million spending plan for the 2014-2015 school year, which would increase spending by $3.1 million—or 2.03 percent—from last year, when voters approved a $153.3 million budget. 


“The Farmingdale School District carefully crafted a comprehensive budget in order to maintain the high-level resources that our students need to succeed in and out of the classroom,” said Farmingdale’s Assistant Superintendent of Business Paul Defendini. 


During the first of an ongoing series of budget workshops, on March 12, the board highlighted different aspects of the 2014-2015 budget including the gap elimination adjustment, state aid, teacher and state retirement costs, program changes and reductions, and the 2 percent tax levy cap. 


According to Defendini, this year’s budget is estimated to increase the tax levy by 1.81 percent, based on the formula provided by New York State.


For school districts statewide, meeting the 2 percent levy cap has been increasingly difficult when faced with the rising costs of teacher and state employee retirement systems. Based on the Farmingdale School District’s proposed 2014-2015 budget figures, employee benefit costs are projected to increase by $2.7 million, while salaries are expected to increase by $57,924 as a result of a required step increase. 


Defendini added that what has happened, is that the district’s collective bargaining units have been helping by agreeing to a salary freeze. 


“[District employees] have taken a lot of hits on their salary over the last three years,” Defendini added. 


He explained that because of a reduction in state aid, the district is looking to leverage retirements to maximize budgetary savings, while maintaining the programs that the community has come to expect. 


“It is extremely important for our community to continue to be involved throughout this process because it is our goal to continue to provide our community with the academic and programmatic excellence that they deserve and have come to expect from our District.”


The Farmingdale School District’s next budget workshop will take place at 8 p.m., on March 26, at Howitt Middle School.